more coffee

Hello Travellers!

@grupoconval Family

We’ve told you where in Bloem you can find the final product; now we are going to share with you the coffee-making process from an actual coffee maker’s perspective. We were fortunate enough to host German Zelayandia at Arista Guesthouse back in 2012. He is a Salvadoran engineer who visited Bloemfontein on business. He is part of a company called @GrupoConval, Salvadoran coffee production company and these are his insights.


The coffee beans

The history behind the company dates back as far as 1918, where one man and one woman united with a common interest in coffee production. From there onwards, generations of coffee growers acquired new coffee farms in better geographical areas, installed wet and dry mills and switched over rom generic to speciality coffee for exportation and to introduce tourism as a compliment to the sustainability of the coffee production.

Fast forward to 2018 and the fourth generation of coffee growers has, amongst other things, broadened the exportation of speciality coffees and has introduced new varieties (geisha) and 3 members of the fifth generation are interested in joining in on the venture.


The coffee farms Monte Verde and Los Cipreces are on the Ilanmatepec mountains.

Coffee plantation

Both these farms produce mainly bourbon and pacas varieties. The harvest period spans from December to February each year and the area experiences sufficient temperatures and rainfall for optimal growth of a variety of trees.

The team is selecting yellow bourbon coffee




Ready for export

We did not exaggerate when we said that coffee-making is an intricate process, but here’s our simplified version of the whole shebang:
It all starts with cutting, sorting and weighing of cherries. Then, the coffee is transferred to the wet mill for pulping. It is then left to ferment for an average of eight hours before it is eventually taken to dry in the drying yards. After about 6 to 8 days of drying in the sun, being moved and covered with plastic in the evenings, they proceed to gather the coffee in bags (by variety, batch, plank, characteristics, process etc.) and transport the bags to a horizontal drier for further drying. Finally, they are packed into new bags and stored in warehouses in separate consignments, depending on the case and wooden pallets.

Conval Group is deeply rooted in family values and social responsibility. This is shown in the fact that the 5th generation of the same family is about to take over the company and in the fact that they take care not to waste water in their processes, respectively.

For information on where to find their coffee beans, please refer to



A Traveller’s Friend



Coffee: the Why, What & When?

You know the conversation has reached its expiry once you start talking about the weather… but in this case it is exactly where our conversation begins.

Cuppa joe

Before we begin our “weather convo”, we would just like to mention: Over the years we have met some incredible people at Arista, who ( as the story has it) arrived as strangers and left as friends. Amongst them is a Salvadoran engineer, coffee connoisseur and simply a nice guy, German Zelayandia. Cool name, right? While working on a project in SA a few years back, he introduced the Arista team to his passion: coffee from El Salvador.  Needless to say, it was love at first sight.

In our follow up post we will tell you more about Salvadorian coffee culture, the family who has been in business for almost 100 years and how to get hold of those beans in South Africa, #businessopportunity.

Now… It has been uncomfortably cold in the Rose City these past few weeks. I think it is safe to say that winter is on its way and that it is going to be a cold one. What better way to gear up for the colder months than to find out exactly where you can grab a warm cuppa joe in Bloemfontein?  We took it upon ourselves to identify five local hot spots for you. We spoke to the owners of Faba, Jaru, Royal Roastery, Stereo Cafe and Urban Brew and asked three (what we thought were) simple questions: Why coffee, what coffee and when coffee? Here’s what they had to say:


WHY coffee? 

“Well, this is actually a very difficult question as we simply just love coffee! Coffee is a fascinating industry to be in as there is as yet no real standard as to how things are done and this gives you so much more room to experiment and learn something new each and every day and with this it gives us the willingness to go and take these new things to our customers and educate them about coffee as this is what we are all about actually. The speciality coffee industry is relatively new in Bloemfontein as compared to Cape Town and Johannesburg but it is an upcoming industry and we are so excited to be a part of this niche market in its infancy stages. Our main aim is to bring the beans to Bloemfontein which are not available at any other roasters in Bloemfontein as there is just so many places that produce great coffee! So our current offer list is Cameroon, D.R Congo and Malawi.”

WHAT coffee?

“We love the Single Origin Cameroon that we roast Medium it is very soft on the tongue and had a creamy taste to it.”

WHEN coffee?

“For us, the best time to have coffee is first thing in the morning as it reminds us of why we are doing hat we are doing and it just really gives us the energy to get through the day as we appreciate a great coffee!”



JARU coffee art

WHY Coffee?
“Why not? Everything about it just overwhelmingly inviting… the fact that coffee grows on trees in high altitude sub-tropical areas far away from where we are now. Then it is handpicked, squeezed out and washed to be shipped to places all over the world where skilful roasters put their knowledge and machines into practice. After which we find the beans, we all love to smell, in the hands of a skilful barista who prepares the perfect cup of coffee that makes us all feel good inside. And just the way coffee brings people together; whether it’s after a meal, around the breakfast table or in a queue at you favourite coffee shop.”

WHAT coffee?
“Firstly, you have many different types of origins from many different countries with each having its own distinctive characteristics in flavour, body and acidity. But for us here at Jaru we prefer Brazil Cerrado which is a full bodied coffee with a chocolate and nutty undertone…and then our favourite beverage to enjoy that in is a Flat White…Jaru Style!”

WHEN coffee?
“The best time to have coffee is most definitely in the morning. And that will always be the very first thing in the morning…’cause it’s true: it wakes you up.”


WHY Coffee?
“Royal Roastery started with a small group of friends, who had a dream of bringing quality coffee to the people of Bloemfontein! Although it’s difficult to serve a niche product in a small town, we believe that although coffee can be exceptional, all our customers can enjoy it the way they like it. Coffee may seem ordinary for the everyday coffee drinker, but we strongly believe that there is so much more to learn about coffee than just being a caffeinated drink. Our roasters, baristas and waiters believe that it’s not just about serving an amazing cup of coffee, but rather what it takes to create that perfect cup of coffee!”

WHAT Coffee?


“From bean to cup, each coffee delivers different characteristics and flavour profiles; depending on the roast (light, medium, dark) and of course the espresso recipe used. We strive to always serve a single origin coffee, which have originated from one specific country (Guatemala, Rwanda, Kenya) or a specific region e.g. Colombia Popayan. This enhances the quality and characteristics of each coffee and helps the customers realise that not all coffees taste the same. Our passion for single origin coffees is what helps us educate our customers and also the coffee culture of Bloemfontein!
Apart from our espresso bar, where we strive to serve you the best possible single origin espresso based drink (Cortado, flat white, cappuccino, latté), we also have a slow bar or manual brew bar section. This is where the Royal difference comes in, where our customers can enjoy various different manual brew coffee methods each unique in its own way. We offer V60 and Chemex as a “pour over” selection and an Aeropress for a more crisp and full body taste. The Syphon is where science and coffee meets, where the brewing process of your coffee is done through temperature, gravity and concentration. The slow bar takes more attention to detail, seeing that water temperature, the size of grinded coffee and brewing ratios can influence the final product. Be sure to ask the barista for recommendations on which single origin coffee to pair with what brewing method.”

WHEN coffee?
“From sunrise to sunset, anytime and anywhere is a good time for quality coffee!”



WHY coffee?
“Coffee is an important part of cultures around the world. Many people start or end their day with coffee – be it instant, filter or cappuccino or flat white from their favourite cafe. It’s a drink that brings people together or to enjoy in solitude. It has a fascinating history and a wonderful complexity, especially when exploring the world of specialty coffee. In the wise words of this anonymous quote, “Coffee is always a good idea”.”


WHAT coffee?



“It depends on what you enjoy. There are so many options depending on your preference. At Stereo Café, espresso-based milk drinks like flat white and cappuccino, made using our house espresso blend, are quite popular. On a hot summer or warm winter afternoon a cold brew (made with our own coffee concentrate and served with milk and ice) is also a popular choice. We serve a delicious pour-over (filter) coffee too. Our current speciality coffee from Burundi or our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe both make delicious filter coffees – best enjoyed black.”

WHEN coffee?

“The most popular time of day to enjoy coffee is probably in the morning – that is when we are busiest at Stereo Café. But if you are less sensitive to caffeine then anytime is a good time for coffee. If you want the taste of good coffee without the caffeine then try our decaf coffee from Colombia – contrary to what many people believe, decaf, roasted well, is still delicious. Being a coffee roaster, we have a variety of coffee to choose from – freshly roasted beans or ground to order, to enjoy at home or office whenever you feel the need.”



Urban Brew coffee in making

WHY coffee?
“Besides the science of coffee, I am mesmerised by the potential coffee possesses to bring people from all walks of life together. Work, social, any gathering is suitable for great coffee.
Coffee tells that story of people and I love to be part of it.”
WHAT coffee?
“The method I use to brew coffee determines the origin for me.
I love a pour over in the morning (it’s a slowly brewed filter coffee). With this, I love a washed Ethiopian Heirloom varietal or a single origin Kenyan SL28.”

Urban Brew @ Startup Grind Bloemfontein

WHEN coffee?
“All the time is good for great coffee, but there is something special about the first cup of the morning…as long as it is shared with someone special.”





There you have it, folks. Whether you are in search of a hang-out, a place to have a business meeting or a little bit of warmth, these places are worth the visit.

Two things are evident from the answers above:
1) These roasters share a serious, beautiful passion for quality coffee AND
2) Our questions were not as simple as they seemed after all.

Coffee-making is a complex process with a plain and simple result: the taste of pure goodness -pure goodness that you are more than welcome to come and experience at Arista Guesthouse as well, by the way.

Keep warm and enjoy a cup of coffee.

A Traveller’s Friend

PS all places are listed alphabetically & images are compliments of the respective roasters. Thank you!

PPS for more info on the stores, visit their websites/Facebook & Instagram pages.





For the Love of Water

Bonjour, Travellers

The 2000’s is legal now.  We’ll leave it to 2018 to tell us what exactly that means! Meanwhile, I took a three-month break from blogging and focussed on exams, spending time with family and friends and re-charging for the new year.

I spent a few weeks in Cape Town over the festive season.  As per usual, I had a grand time but I felt extremely guilty whenever I used water. My time in the Cape forced me to face the reality that water is a precious and scarce resource and it is about time we treat it that way. Who’s to say Bloem isn’t next in line? We’ve already experienced a week without water last November and it can happen again. Also, how terrible does our water taste at the moment? With all these revelations, I would like to recommend a few water-saving tips I picked up in Cape Town and I urge you to start using water sparingly, as if every day will be the last day you have access to water.

Here they are:

  • Shower instead of bathing
  • Aim to stop-start shower for no longer than 2 minutes. Only turn the water on to wet and again to rinse
  • Collect shower water while you’re showering; alternatively, only collect the nearly 5 litres that go to waste when you’re warming up the water. This water can be used to fill your toilet bowls
  • If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If brown, flush it down. Use hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands with soap and water
  • Water your garden and/or fill the toilet bowl with collected bath and basin water
  • Don’t let the tap run whilst brushing teeth or washing your face
  • Wet wipes work wonders
  • Collect rainwater
  • If you’re willing and able, invest in a grey water system. For further information, inbox us at Arista Guesthouse
  • Wait for a full load before running washing machines and dishwashers. The rinse water from some washing machines can be re-used for the next wash cycle.
  • Defrost foods in the fridge or naturally, rather than placing it under running water

Put aside your convenience and get saving! These methods are inexpensive and worth it in the long run.



Speaking of run… who will be running through your mind this Month of Love?  Don’t let your love run dry. Here’s what you and your partner can get up to in Bloemtown in February:

Side note: Not exclusively for singles. 😉

6 Feb – 59Plenty’s Cake Table Special, 59Plenty @9h00

7 Feb – Girls’ Night Out: ‘Fifty Shades Freed’, Nu Metro Loch Logan @19h00

7 Feb – Movie Night, CoffeTalks Café @19h00

7 Feb – Mini Food & Wine Paring, 59Plenty @18h00

7 Feb – Bloemfontein Business Women’s Networking Event @7h30

10 Feb – Stellar Brewery Tasting with Down South, Blend Restaurant and Bar @17h00

10 Feb – Kloppers Marathon 2018, Bloemfontein Achilles Sports Centre @5h30

14 Feb – Candy & Cognac Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance, Windmill Casino @18h00

14 Feb – Valentines outdoor movie, Emoya Estate @17h00

14 Feb – Valentine’s Day “Make a Wish” for Couples, 59Plenty @18h00

14 Feb – Valentine’s Day at The Beach, Kaya Beach Bloemfontein @10h30

14 Feb – Valentine’s Charity Ball, Monte Bello Estate @18h30

16 Feb – Varsity Jam Bloemfontein / The Other Venue @20h00

16 Feb – 21st Birthday, Mystic Boer Bloemfontein @21h00

17 Feb – BLOEM LIFESTYLE MARKET, Bloem Showgrounds @11h00-22h00

17 Feb – Valentine’s Day Movie evening: showcasing La La Land, Oliewenhuis Art Museum @17h30

17 Feb – Vintage & Hobby Market, Reizis Square @9h00

17 Feb – Jack Parow Live at University of Free State @19h00

17 Feb – Hip Hop Poetry Extravaganza, TheHide-Out  @20h00

20 Feb – Drumability Workshop #3, CoffeeTalks Café @18h00

22 Feb – February Chocolate Workshop, 59Plenty @18h00

23 Feb – Tasting With DIE MAS – Gin , Wine and Brandy, The Tredenham Boutique Hotel @18h30

23 Feb – Gypsy evening with ‘Unlock the Gypsy Within’ workshop, Gallery On Leviseur @18h00

27 Feb – Bookbinding Workshop,  Oliewenhuis Art Museum @9h30

28 Feb – Startup Grind Bloemfontein Hosts Jaclyn Engelbrecht, Mazars @18h00

28 Feb – Sweat Gear Happy Valley Trailrun Night Race – #TrailrunSeries2 @18h00

28 Feb – February Sushi Workshop, 59Plenty @18h00

Masha and I wish you and your loved ones a twenty-great-teen and hope you’ve managed to tick a few items off of your resolutions list. Now would be a great time to add “save water” to the list. We look forward to sharing more Bloem adventures with you.

The turning over of a new leaf

Ola friends

You know spring is here when you wake up to the chirping of birds and with an uncontrollable urge to clean out your closet. September, synonymous with spring, is a month of renewal, fertility and (for most of us) the turning over of a new leaf.

With a fresh start comes new experiences, new people, new places, a new wardrobe and a new you. It is also the perfect time to reflect on where you come from, who you are and where you are now. What better time to reflect than on Heritage Day, the 24th of September?

Heritage Day is so much more than “National Braai Day”. It is a day set aside in recognition and celebration of the diverse cultural heritages of all South Africans. And South Africa is a true melting pot of heritages. Our heritage forms part of our identity. The importance of diversity and recognizing and respecting our differences in culture, beliefs and traditions cannot be stressed enough. Imagine how dull life would be if we were all the same? I cannot. Furthermore, we need to recognize one another’s differences in order to enable us to be empathetic towards one another. And we must respect one another’s differences so that we can (continue) to live in beautifully diverse harmony. What does your heritage mean to you?

My maternal grandparents were Portuguese immigrants from Madeira. They took so much pride in being Portuguese and instilled that sense of pride and carrying forth of traditions in their children and grandchildren. I could listen to stories of their past for hours on end and took a great interest in their ways of life in general. So much of Madeira lived in their homes and in their hearts, and it continues to live in my home and heart too.

Madeira is known for its Bailinho da Madeira (a traditional dance with the accompanying song), beautiful flowers, and elaborate firework shows over New Year’s. Don’t get me started on the food and drink…: Bolo de Mel (honey cake), custard tarts,espada, espetada, poncha, Brisa. My mouth is literally watering right now. On Heritage Day my family tries to get together for lunch. On the menu will usually be espetada, boiled potatoes and a salad. My uncle Joao makes the most delicious poncha; strong and sweet just how I like it. There will be the occasional playing of Portuguese music but we don’t dress up and perform the Bailinho… We leave that to the experts on the Portuguese channel RTP.

I’ve shared with you how I celebrate Heritage Day. How do you celebrate? Do you celebrate Heritage Day/Month? If not, we have a few suggestions for you:

2 September / Market Day- Free State Art Symposium / André Huguenet Theatre 9AM-2PM
2 September / Youth Concerto Festival / Odeion School of music/ 7.30PM
2 September / Boho Birthday Bash with DJ Shaxe / Boho Bistro/ 11PM
3 September / Journey to the stars / Naval Hill Planetarium / 4PM
3 September / VEUVE Clicquot Picnic CHIC/ Kobose Luxury: The Luxury Events Company
4 September/ 2017 Phatshoane Henney New Breed Art Competition/ Oliewenhuis
6 September/ Happy Valley& Oliewenhuis Art Museum Trail Night Race/ Oliewenhuis/ 5.30-8PM
7 September / Fashion Show Child Welfare / Ramblers Club
14 September / Jazz Evenings featuring Mlungisi Gegana/ Coco C / 7.30PM
22 September / Pilates Mat Short Course / Ramblers Club / 9AM
23 September / The Craft Festival /Ramblers club Bloemfontein / 12-10PM
23 September / PARTY@PLENTY/ @59 Plenty / 7.30PM
24 September / Special Heritage Day Programme Myths and Stories in the Sky / Naval Hill Planetarium / 4PM
27 September / Startup Grind Bfn empowered by Google/ @59 Plenty/ 6-9PM
29 September / No Limits / Mystic Boer Bfn / 8PM-4AM


Traveller’s friend


Happy Mumsday

Greetings, Travellers

May month features May the Fourth, Return of the Fifth and Mother’s Day. I don’t particularly support the notion of celebrating and showing appreciation for motherhood, fatherhood and even love once a year. Days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day are set aside nonetheless, so we may as well make use of them too. In the spirit the latter we will explore how the dynamic mother can celebrate motherhood in Bloemfontein on Mother’s Day and in May in general.


Veda& her mum, Serina

The dynamic mother is an entrepreneur:

  • For the entrepreneurial mother we recommend attending Startup Grind Bloemfontein’s May event. Speakers include Thandi Vellem and Leah Molatseli, two powerful female entrepreneurs making big waves in their respective fields. Catch them on Thursday the 24th of May / 6PM / Cubaña Bloemfontein. For more details on this event and #startbfn follow the Facebook link:


The dynamic mother is a foodie:

  • The ideal situation would be for your hubby and/or child (ren) to cook at least one fancy meal for you on Mother’s Day.
  • If that’s not the case and you feel like cuisine you haven’t had to prepare, head over to a restaurant. Bloemfontein has a wide selection of restaurants to choose from!


Masha& her mum, Svetlana

The dynamic mother is a culture vulture:

  • Visit an art gallery such as Oliewenhuis and Gallery on Leviseur.
  • Watch a movie at home, at the cinema or at the UFS.
  • Go out dancing at Die Mystic Boer or the like.
  • Listen to live musical performances, poetry and/or storytelling at the Aasvoël Klub.


The dynamic mother is adventurous and energetic:

  • Go for a hike at the Botanical Gardens.
  • Join Parkrun on Saturdays on Naval Hill.


The dynamic mother deserves a pampering:

  • Take some time off from your busy schedule. Book a facial, massage, manicure and pedicure at a beauty salon. Masha is in love with Tselem Skin Care Clinic and confidently recommends them. She’s a regular there.
  • For further peace, quiet and relaxation, book yourself into Arista Guesthouse for one night. You will receive the 5-star treatment you deserve.


We hope that you can draw some inspiration from the above recommendations, take some time for yourself and do what you love. We love you and thank you for being a dynamic mother.


A Traveller’s Friend



13 May – Come Wine With Me, from 6pm @Greek Hall Bfn, Corner of Andries Pretorius and Bree Street

13 May – Portuguese Youth Festival, 10pm @91 St George’s Street

13 May – Sculpting Porcelain: Hand Modelling and Carving Workshop, 10am @Oliewenhuis

16 May – Ciné-Club @Equitas Auditorium, University of the Free State (Showing the cult classic: Amélie)

18 May – Brandenburg String Trio, 7.30PM @Odeion

18 May – Bloem Board Games Evening, 6pm @CoffeeTalks Cafe

18 May – Jodi Bieber: Between Darkness and Light Exhibition Opening, 7pm @Oliewenhuis

19 May – Food Market @Reizis Square

20 May –  Naval Hill Parkrun, 8Am @Naval Hill

20 May – 609th Street Store, 9am @Orchid House

20 May – Cosmic Collisions (Afr), 4pm @Planetarium

20 May – Miss Free State

24 May – Startup Grind powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, 6PM @Cubaña

27 May – Volksblad Food and Art Market @Emoya Estate

27 May – PnP Women’s Walk, 7am @University of the Free State

27 May – New Beginnings Dress Up- Dog Walk, 9AM-2PM @Tuff Top Lawns and Estate


             Greetings All


There is an English saying that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, well this “old dog” learnt one last week.

I was hosting a foreign group who have specifically come to South Africa to look at our old steam locomotives. I was totally unaware that here in Bloemfontein there is the only workshop in South Africa dedicated in repairing and preserving these by gone relics.

I have once read that Bloemfontein had the largest workshop in South Africa for repairing locomotives, but I never really followed up on this. I was flabbergasted in what I saw and I regret in not taking more photos, there are about 10-15 perfectly restored steam locomotives and various other railway paraphernalia in various stages of development. Two of the locomotives are to be shipped out to New Zealand and others are used here in the Free State at Sandstone Estate near Ficksburg.


If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the Transport museum in George and seen all the old trains there, then the chances are it was restored here in Bloemfontein. This is a wonderful opportunity for any steam railway enthusiast to view these machines (I think it’s a man’s dream world) and is a wonderful attraction here for those who are interested. One has to book in advance to make the necessary bookings but I can recommend a visit to the workshop and will add value to my city tour.

I know that April will be a bumper month for the tourism industry with the Angus Buchannan conference being held soon. I think that we can compare this month to October when the Macufe festival attracts people from all over South Africa and all the accommodation places are fully booked. I do have some concerns with the logistics for this conference but I hope that everything will run smoothly and professionally and perhaps Bloemfontein can host it again next year.
Please contact me if you have any tour guiding requests or in need of transfers.

Thank you
Yours in Guiding
Tony Horn



F R I D A Y / N I G H T / F O O D / M A R K E T

As promised, here’s our “Flavour of the Month”: Neighbourhood Market à la Jack & Jill Food Co.

Masha and I attended the market last month. We both deem it worthy of your time; especially to those of you who love live music, food and socialising (I mean… who doesn’t?).

The market is located in the colourful Reizis Square under hundreds of dainty fairy lights. It was quite the enchanting experience – we arrived before sunset and stayed long enough to experience the illumination of the fairly lights as the sky turned dark. The sunset also beautifully complimented the two palm trees from which the “Neighbourhood Market” sign hangs. #pictureperfect


Apart from the aesthetically pleasing setting, I thoroughly enjoyed Simple Stories’ stellar live performance. There was a wide range of tasty treats and drinks to choose from: gourmet food, sweets and STELLAR CRAFT BEER.




I bought a few prawn rissoles, lemon meringue and a blonde beer and parked off on the grass. Masha ended off her market experience at Wiltshire and White Horse Company (a pub in the square that serves really great gin).

The market was vibrant and of high standard in terms of its food, drink and music. It was quite the drive to the venue, but so worth it. I want to describe it as a Cape Town vibe… Is that acceptable?

My advice: get there on time so that you can claim a table or spot on the grass and settle in. You want to take a jolly group of mates too! It is the perfect place to hang out with friends and indulge in pure goodness.

The market takes place monthly from 17h00-20h00.

Please find below a table of events taking place this month. Please share with us any events we should be adding to the table.

Apr-12 JAZZ EVENING COCO C 073 300 9967


Until next month!


A Traveller’s Friend

On A Mission To Find Vegan Eateries

Ola, Travellers

Follow the White Rabbit

The month of April greets us with  over-done pranks and then swiftly reminds us that winter is around the corner. This is usually the time of the year when I toss the shorts and opt for jeans & T’s.

In our jeans & T’s, Masha and I decided that this month would be dedicated to trying to compile a list of vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurants in Bloemfontein. Masha is vegan for the 2017 Lent period and we both have a few vegan/vegetarian friends. Including Masha and friends, I’m pretty sure that a lot of vegan/vegetarian traveller’s would find such a list useful. You want to be served a decent meal at a restaurant and not just a head of lettuce or boiled potato.

You can just imagine the struggle to compile such a list, considering where we are (oh, hello). However, upon many a visit to a variety of restaurants back in March, this is what Masha found:



Veggie Stir Fry by #amazingchefandrea

“A Silwood graduate chef once told me she always judges a restaurant by the choice of vegetarian options on the menu. I can tell you right away: There are not many vegetarian-friendly (never mind vegan) places in our meat-loving part of SA; however, I’ve managed to find a few.

About Two weeks back I had a Startup Grind meeting at Koekela, a serene little restaurant in the heart of Bloemfontein. On arrival, out of curiosity, I asked whether they had Almond or Soy milk, as I had a serious cappuccino craving. To my surprise, a very friendly waitress not just saved me with caffeine but suggested some lovely vegan dishes to choose from. And even though I didn’t end up eating, the understanding and willingness to help were much appreciated👌definitely a must try✔️
Another spot was Avanti @Woodlands’ shopping center, where once again (thanks to the waitress who happened to be vegan herself) a friend of mine and I were served some delicious pizzas.
Of course, there is always Woolworths’ coffee shop. As in most cases, the menu is limited to avo or hummus sandwiches.

Vegetable Cannelloni by @andreaolivier01

To all fellow vegans and vegetarians out there, the verdict is such: #bestrong and work on your home cooking skills🙌

Yours truly,




After doing a little investigating myself, I’d heard that the following are either vegetarian/vegan friendly or accommodating:
@59 Plenty
Iewers Nice
Coffe Talks Café
Much to my dismay, we were unable to compile a complete list of vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurants. Until such a time, the best advice would be to request accommodating options! Let’s just take solace in the fact that we have come across accommodating places nonetheless.
We haven’t given up just yet. Should you have information regarding vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurants, please share with us! That would be helpful in our quest.

(Hint, hint: clearly there’s a gap in the Bloemfontein market for a Vegan restaurant.)


A Traveller’s Friend



Meet the Travel Guru

“This continent is like a beautiful, passionate woman with all her moods and tempers”

Happy Wednesday to all 🙂

Here is a short story about our #travelguru, Tony Horn, who will guide us through Free State every Mid-month. Enjoy !


“Africa, its people, places and stunning wildlife has had me spellbound since I first arrived on these shores back in 1971. My memories of my childhood growing up in Cornwall were of green fields, foxes and seagulls with the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto the Cornish cliffs. I loved the outdoors then as a child and that love has never diminished.

This continent is like a beautiful, passionate woman with all her moods and tempers. Once you are under her spell it is hard to resist her charms. Africa is part of us, our origins are from her and thus an inextricable bond exists.

I have had the pleasure of exploring many of the sub Saharan regions but as there is just so much to see, I doubt that I will ever explore it all in this lifetime. I worked for many years at game lodges within the Sabi Sands as well in the Kruger Park creating memories and friendships which will last a lifetime.

It was in 1995 that I met my good friend Roger on the banks of the Zambezi. A few beers later the seed was planted for us to start our own business. Roger was the first to take the plunge and thus he is the original Bush Junkie and is based down in Durban where he conducts his tours. It was only in 2004 that I made the momentous decision to give it all up and to open Bush Junkies safaris in Bloemfontein. I chose this city as firstly I am a Free Stater through and through and wanted to promote this region. Secondly, there were not that many registered tour guides in the province so the competition was small. Well many years later I am still going, still learning and never giving up. I have evolved, doing things I would never have imagined and enjoying the challenge of working for oneself.  I take tours throughout the country not only focusing on its wildlife but also on the people, history and culture. I am also very passionate in promoting Bloemfontein and offer full or half day tours of the city. It is often underrated as a tourist destination, but I hope that after telling you some of the many interesting topics, that it might convince you to come and visit.

I am a firm believer that through travel you learn new cultures and experience exciting things which make your life a never ending journey of discovery and reward.”


Yours in guiding,

Traveller’s friend

Who we are & Why we Blog

      Hello, Bonjour, Ola, Καλημέρα, Здравствуйте!

Welcome to the ultimate “traveller’s blog”. Masha and I (Veda) are excited to take you on a wonderful journey through Bloemfontein, South Africa, capturing its historic and cultural essence. We’ll also share with you the in’s and out’s in terms of dining experience, night life and overall adventure.

A bit of a background as to who we are, how the blog came to be and what you can expect from it:

As you already know, my name is Veda. I’m a South African born Portuguese, living in Bloemfontein. I’ve always had an affinity towards different cultures of the world and I, like many, enjoy sight-seeing and going on adventures.

Masha is originally from Belarus. She moved to Bloemfontein in 2007. She is fluent in Russian, French, and English and is currently taking on Greek. And might I add, she is a socialite of note.

(Side note: Masha is a co-owner of the guesthouse, a hidden gem in the peaceful suburb of Dan Pienaar, Bloemfontein, South Africa.)

Our idea of starting a blog was confirmed early in February of this year while Masha and I were sitting under the Pride of India tree at Arista Guesthouse.


“I think that the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.” Luis Barragán


While we were chatting and indulging in some freshly pressed coffee, foreign travellers arrived and checked in at Arista. One of the first questions they asked Masha was, “What can we do here, in Bloemfontein?” Visitors to a foreign territory always want to know what’s on offer in terms of art, entertainment and cuisine, but often don’t have access to this very information.

Traveller’s friend

We’ve therefore decided to start a blog which will provide local and foreign travellers with a monthly to-do list in Bloemfontein. We’ll also share our personal experiences and recommendations (the so-called “flavour of the month”). The “boring” stigma attached to Bloemfontein shall dissolve, because we’re going to show you that Bloemfontein has much to offer!

Bloemfontein is rich in history and has developed a culture of her own. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that JRR Tolkien, who wrote masterpiece fantasy novels such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ was born right here in the heart of South Africa. Bloemfontein has also been the birthplace of and home to famous fine artists, musicians, actors and sports stars – Father Claerhout, Lucas Maree, Leon Schuster and Zola Budd (respectively).

A bit of a #namedropping, I know! 😉

Basically, we’re on a mission to provide our traveller friends with an enjoyable stay in Bloemfontein, and perhaps even to convince other travellers to make a turn in The City of Roses.

For more historical information, please keep an eye out for our mid-month Rubric from the #travelguru Tony Horn, also knows as @Bushjunkies (

A traveller’s friend